Mom & Dad in the Old Country

Ma maman and mon papa came for a highly anticipated visit to Southern France this spring.  To date, my domestic and abroad worlds haven’t mixed nearly as much as I would have hoped when I committed to my life abroad.  For me, it really was a gift to have my parents get a glimpse into my life here in Europe, and for them to feel the comfort and relief of knowing I’m in a really spectacular place that I adore.

Our journey began with a quick and dirty tour of Paris, followed by four days in my father’s family’s homeland of Croatia, catching up with our Croatian and Italian family members over long dinners, homemade lunches, and a hell of a lot of hugs. I can’t believe how lucky we are to still have family in the old country! These amazing people treated us like visiting royalty and nearly broke my heart with all their kindness, hospitality, and ‘love made edible’ in the form of handmade gnocchi followed by crusty apple strudel.

After our heartfelt Croatian visit, we returned to Provence to my familiar stomping grounds. In true tour-guide style, I thoroughly wore out my along-for-the-ride parents showing them all that Provence has to offer with a super jam-packed schedule—quintessential hilltops towns, weekly markets, wineries, perfect seasonal produce, aperitifs in the sunshine, and my favorite small-town eateries and preferred bakeries.

I truly love it here in Europe, and I think my parents totally get it now, even though I know they would still love to have me living in the Chicago suburbs, just down the street, but not before a real French bakery opens up in the heartland. Impossible.

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Zadar, Croatia

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Zadar, Croatia

Enjoying their first Croatian beer in Croatia!

Enjoying their first Croatian beer in Croatia!

A delicious rendition of Baccalà!!

A delicious rendition of Baccalà!!

Opatija

Opatija, Croatia

Dad's Birthday in Opatija

Dad’s Birthday in Opatija

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Family Graves in Vranja, Croatia.

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Back in France...

Back in France…

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Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux de Provence. It's one of my absolute favorite places in Provence.

Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux de Provence. It’s one of my absolute favorite places in Provence.

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Family Fun Times in Florida

The last three winters, I’ve been hanging out with my parents in Florida instead of the frigid tundra of the Chicagoland area, and this Snowbird thing is really starting to make sense. Retirement is blissful, especially when combined with walks on the beach and shuffleboard with friends. My sister, Jenny, flew in from Denmark, and with me flying in from South Africa, it was quite a spectacular family reunion from all corners of the globe. I have the best family in the whole world, and I loved seeing them in the sunshine for a few weeks to catch up and lay low together poolside.

Furthermore, Eastern Florida is home to the world’s greatest dive bar, Archies Seabreeze, with its handsome, pirate lookalike bartenders and finger-lickin’ good, deep-fried chicken wings and Old Bay covered shrimp. Combine those tasty treats with dollar, happy hour beers—yes, you heard me right, d-o-l-l-a-r happy hour beers—and you’ve got a recipe for one hell of evening!

Thanks for embracing me Florida, even though I don’t have a head full of grey hair, at least not yet.

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My sister spotted a manatee! What a drama queen! This is a joke, people. 🙂

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